Making a Bow and Arrows (When You Have No Idea What You Are Doing)


(BenSpiritbear) #22

I’ll see what I can find. All the hickories around the cabin are mature but I think there are some younger ones further in the woods.

(Alexander Meander) #23

@Ragnar, @dennis, let me know if you all work something out. i have a good deal of young hickories in the understory here and i would be more than happy to gather some for your use, dennis, though you may need to give me some pointers on good selection.

(Dennis Lanigan) #24

If you’re cutting hickory trees either way, staves are a good thing to have either for your own use (think axe handles besides just bows) or to trade. If you get some extra good staves I’ll trade something.

8"+ straight trees are the ones to go for. Cut and split into quarter staves with wedges. Paint the ends with Elmer’s glue. Store in a barn, out of the weather.

For a more thorough explanation see Traditional Bowyer’s Bible vol I. The authors’ say to cut hickory in August so the year’s growth is done but the bark still peels off. But everyone else seems to cut in Winter so they know the ring growth is done. Either way works for white wood, just Winter seems more foolproof and less busy.

(Dennis Lanigan) #25

Here’s a Yew bow I traded for and my hickory bow that’s almost done. The yew bow is #35 and the hickory is #45. I don’t know what the nock to nock lengths are. The yew bow seems like a kid’s bow, whereas the hickory bow could potentially be used for hunting.

From this picture I see the bottom limb of the hickory bow needs thinning…

(Dennis Lanigan) #26

Starting to tiller a Yew bow with a long tillering string on a tillering tree.

Close to final tillering. I have the final string on with a five inch space between the string and the handle. Looks pretty good, but I can’t pull it past 20 inches or so. That’s actually good because I can ease my way into a 45 to 50 # bow (a 45+ bow is needed for hunting in most places, I believe). It’s really short at 56" which I like for travelling in forest brush.

I stole the string from the other yew bow I have temporarily. I’m hoping to take a Sinew bowstring class at Winter Count in about two weeks and make one for this bow. Now I gotta thin this bow down a little more and cut more sinew from Elk legs.

(Dennis Lanigan) #27

Getting closer. People on Fb primitive bowmaking group telling me the tips and the fades aren’t doing enough work. If it’s not clear what that means is I need to sand more down near the handle that “fade” into the limbs.

Unstrung you can see the bow still has a lot of backset, meaning the tips bend the wrong way towards the back of the bow. Sounds like I can heat set the tips and vise them down and/or put sinew on the belly to reduce that. Heat treating wood in such a dry climate scares me though. I might just do sinew and call it good.

(Dennis Lanigan) #28

This guy knows what he is doing!

(Alexander Meander) #29

@dennis, sorry to fall off the radar! i was out today and realizing once again that i would love to get my hands on some strips of rawhide for using as cordage. i have not gotten into working animal hides yet myself. if you have any that you could spare i would be more than happy to gather you some good hickory staves. let me know if this interests you can we can take the conversation to messages perhaps?

(Dennis Lanigan) #30

Still don’t really know what I am doing, but I keep trying to figure stuff out. Now I am working on arrowheads and arrows.


Arrowhead lashed with elk sinew on a red osier dogwood shaft. Yeah, I know they are oversized. A more legit arrow would have a smaller width shaft and smaller point.

(Dennis Lanigan) #31

Fletching with peacock flight feathers. I decided to forego gluing the feathers (mainly because all the glue I had didn’t work due to being frozen) and now I regret it.

Hide glue I’m going to use to try and glue the fletching.

(Dennis Lanigan) #32

The entire arrow. Straightening the shaft was interesting. The shaft originally had a huge curve to it. I covered it in a coating of Bear fat and heated the bottom of the curve on my super hot wood stove. Then I bent the shaft over my knee until it stayed relatively straight. I need to pick better shafts in the future, but this one works I think. This ridiculously huge arrow will definitely take down the famous New Mexico Pygmy Mastadons (i.e. cows) breaking down the fence and pooping all around my camp.